We all need our icons

Tanya Zielke

Creative Director & Partner, Carbon Orange

We all need our icons

Tanya Zielke

Creative Director & Partner, Carbon Orange

These often tiny images may be small, but they have a huge impact on our day.

They’re our guides – from showing us where the app we need is on our computers, smartphones and TVs to telling us when to fill our cars up, turn the headlights on or where to find parking.

Don’t underestimate these little pictures – your business could benefit greatly from them, whether they’re carrying your corporate style though your PowerPoint presentations and marketing collateral or helping users navigate your website.

How do they work? Well, here’s the thing. The more detail you take away from an image, whilst leaving just enough detail, the more universal it generally becomes. And the more it stands out amongst all the text and other detailed imagery around it. We are naturally drawn to these kind of images. They intrigue us, enhance our understanding and indicate that here is something interesting or important.

If you have a new product, give it an icon on your website, show it off and make people notice it. This little icon will won’t take up much space, but it has a loud voice. Better still, have a look at all your icons. Do they have the same look and feel, do they fit into your corporate style, or have you just collected them organically from here and there?

Still not convinced? Look at your computer or your mobile, and imagine it without icons and just text instead. What a nightmare that would be. That’s why, when Apple Macintosh were developing their prototype over 30 years ago, they asked iconographer Susan Kave to create icons for the interface. They have been so successful that they haven’t changed much since and are synonymous with Apple.

Next time you’re out and about, need to make a dash for the loo and glance at the door to find the icon that’s applicable to you, take a moment to think about your own icons. Could they be better represented, are they in the correct style, or should you be using more of them?

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